jumper

Olathe guard Gabby O’Donnell goes up for a jumper Tuesday against Gunnison. O’Donnell had seven points in the team’s home win. (Andrew Kiser/ Montrose Daily Press)

For the second-straight home game, the Lady Pirates’ full-court press defense annoyed a visiting Western Slope League opponent.

This time around, the Olathe girls basketball team welcomed in Gunnison on Tuesday, and right away the Lady Pirates didn’t allow the Cowgirls offense to get going.

The home team allowed just seven first-half points while scoring 34 as Olathe (4-11; 2-3 in WSL) went on to win the ballgame, 48-14.

“In the first half, I was pleased with them (players),” coach Paul Althaus said. “I thought our energy was good. We’re starting to understand the press thing a little bit better.”

Olathe’s first success with the press at home came back on Friday in a 29-point win over Aspen.

On Tuesday, Mariah Garcia finished the game almost outscoring the entire Gunnison team with 12, while Gabby O’Donnell had seven, which included a 3-pointer, and Anastasia Bollinger added six. Additionally, Makayla Millsap and Ashlee Green both scored five.

The Lady Pirates began the game on fire on both sides of the floor.

After Gunnison scored the first bucket of the game, Olathe went on to score 17 unanswered points. Both teams went on to trade baskets late as the Lady Pirates led, 19-4, at the end of the first quarter.

The hosts continued to add on to their advantage, leading by as much as 28 before heading into halftime ahead 34-7.

Garcia contributed to the high-scoring opening periods to the team’s focus to “push” the offense into easy transition buckets.

“I thought we did do that in the first quarter,” she said. “... I thought we kept our calm. We were just very patient about everything.”

The second half had low-scoring efforts by both teams.

The Pirates went on to close out the game, outscoring the Cowgirls 7-5 and 6-2 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. Olathe also notched its largest lead at 35 in the third period.

Althaus praised both units that went out to face Gunnison. He indicated that the players’ activity in the first half needs to happen for entire games.

“It helps fuel our offense,” he said.

However, when the Lady Pirates went into a more half-court offense, the struggles on offense still remain, Althaus said.

“We need to be patient. There’s a lot of energy there and they’re wanting to go-go-go,” he said, adding some of that comes down to the youthfulness of his athletes. “We have to slow things down and work through an offense.”

But compared to earlier this season, Althaus said this team is much better than it was back in December.

“They’re learning the game as we go. … We’re getting there,” he said.

Up next, Olathe visits Grand Valley at 6 p.m., Friday.

Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.

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